Stars Aligned For Bruce Arians — Part 2

September 17th, 2019

“The Sage” delivers in his thrice-weekly column.

BY IRA KAUFMAN columnist

Presented By

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During a casual conversation with my brother, I nearly dropped the phone.

We were comparing the weather in California and Florida when he asked the question that stopped our little chat cold:

“Do you think the Bucs can win their division?”

A week ago, following Tampa Bay’s home loss to the 49ers, that question would have seemed sarcastic and cruel.

Now, it seems legitimate.

Everyone says the NFL is a week-to-week league … and the Bucs are proving it. One road victory in Charlotte has turned things around in the chase for the NFC South title and suddenly that daunting schedule doesn’t look nearly as challenging.

Everyone pointed to the opposing quarterbacks in the division when assessing Tampa Bay’s playoff chances. Matt Ryan and Cam Newton are league MVP winners who have played in Super Bowls. Drew Brees is a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

All true, but look at what’s going on.

Buc fans just watched Newton and came away unimpressed. There isn’t much zip on the ball and he doesn’t run anymore. If Newton’s legs aren’t a factor, he is a below-average NFL quarterback.

Brees will definitely miss the Week 5 game against the Bucs in the Superdome and he may not return in time for the rematch in Tampa.

And anybody watching Teddy Bridgewater’s performance against the Rams realizes the drop-off under center is immense.

The Falcons were fortunate to beat the Eagles in their home opener Sunday night, but let’s acknowledge Philadelphia is a quality team. Tampa Bay faces Atlanta twice in the final six weeks and by that point, Jameis Winston should be acclimated in this new offense.

Buc fans have learned the hard way not to get too far ahead of themselves.

Answer The Question

In 2016, Dirk Koetter’s first season on the sidelines, Tampa Bay was 8-5 and in control of its playoff destiny. The Bucs then dropped two in a row and those postseason plans hit the shredder.

The question remains: “Do you think the Bucs can win their division?”

At this point, why not?

Stars aligned

It starts Sunday at home against the Giants, who look awful. The Dolphins are tanking, but the Giants want to win. They just don’t know how. If the Bucs lose Sunday, shame on them. It would end any momentum and sap the will of their supporters, just when positive energy is building along Dale Mabry.

A 2-1 start is important because that Week 4 road matchup against the Rams is problematic, to say the least. Then it’s on to New Orleans and an overseas rematch against the Panthers. After road games against the rather ordinary Titans and the decent Seahawks, Tampa Bay’s schedule softens considerably.

The physical issues with Newton and Brees have changed the power structure in this division and the Bucs are poised to take advantage.

Remember when Bruce Arians said he took this job because the stars aligned?

They’re still in proper orbit.

This defense is allowing an average of only 4.6 yards per snap, stingier than every team in the league besides the Bills, Bears and Patriots. This ground game, powered by better blocking up front, is more physical. Mike Evans and O.J. Howard have yet to get untracked.

There’s a lot to like, but it could all fall apart if the Bucs let their guard down against Saquon Barkley and friends. Now it’s the Giants, rather than the Bucs, who are dealing with a quarterback controversy.

Now it’s the Giants who were booed in their home stadium and face questions about the job security of their head coach.

These teams have had some memorable meetings.

The Giants won 38-35 last year, despite yielding 31 first downs and 510 yards. Who can forget the 2012 matchup, when Eli Manning threw for 510 yards and the game ended with Tom Coughlin lecturing Greg Schiano about NFL etiquette?

And the 2007 Wild Card Giants came into Tampa and ended the Buc season with a 24-14 victory. That was the last time the Bucs were division champs and the last time they made the playoffs.

So we’re back to the question of the day: “Do you think the Bucs can win their division?”

Hell yes.

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22 Responses to “Stars Aligned For Bruce Arians — Part 2”

  1. LordCornelius Says:

    Yeah we owe the Giants a big beatdown for the last few years.

    Go get it. Give us some damn hope please again.


  2. NOSBOS Says:

    Ira, and everyone else looking at these teams like they are untouchable are highly misinformed. rams came close squandering away they’re first won week 1 against the kittens. I watched every snap against the ain’t. The rams are slightly overrated in my opinion. Goff okay and Gurley not the same back from a free year’s ago. We will handle the rams in a few weeks.

  3. NOSBOS Says:

    This issue with all these teams you folks see as obstacles is all of them are throwing the ball 40+ times a game. When they need to run later in the season when weather changes they won’t be able effectively because it won’t have been ingrained into they’re teams DNA. Again #Run The dam Football Lefty.

  4. TampaTown Says:

    Please let’s beat the Giants FIRST. Let’s not get away with ourselves

  5. Iron Wombat Says:

    having Matt Ryan on pace to throw 40 INTs in that one dimensional Koetter offense doesn’t hurt either. Now he won’t throw 40 but I’ll bet he throws a career high this year.

  6. Jean Lafitte Says:

    A 2 – 1 start is exactly what the doctor ordered.

  7. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    We are being dissed and it should pi$$ us off……”Cam & Carolina being beat by the “lowly Bucs”…….
    Starting Daniel Jones because it should be easier against the Bucs (in Tampa)…

    We need to come out swinging and never let up Sunday.

  8. OBP Says:

    We have absolutely 0 excuse not to dominate that sorry Giants team. They have no good WRs, an athletic but inconsistent TE, a defense that is giving up 31.5 PPG currently, and are starting a rookie QB against us. The only threat we have is Barkley and as we’ve showed the first 2 weeks we can shut down the run pretty easily. Shut Barkley down and blitz the young QB to hell, we’ll be 2-1 real quick.

  9. Mike Johnson Says:

    Great Spin Ira. You ought to go on the..Motivational speaking tour! I’m not drinking the kool-aid just yet. I’m old school and have been down this spiral for many years with my Bucs only to come up..Empty. We are only 2 games in. Lets get by the Giants 1st. Trust me, It will Not be an easy task. Dormant QB’s have a way of resurrecting themselves against us. We are famous for jumpstarting QB’s season. Manning is not finished yet. Not by a Long shot. And they have this beast named Barkley. One game at a time. No looking ahead. We are not the Patriots. We are the Bucs. And we gotta bring it hard each and every week to win. No letdowns. No anticipating. Just flat out Balls to the wall baby. That’s our ticket.

  10. unbelievable Says:

    Let’s fkn go!

    Just win baby

  11. Snook Says:

    Why is the Rams game “problematic”?

    They barely beat Carolina and struggled most of the game with a Brees-less Saints team.

    I don’t buy the hype on the Rams.

  12. 813bucboi Says:

    we can win the division with this staff for sure!!!!!!!!

    GO BUCS!!!!!

  13. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    I would add that by the time we face Atlanta for a second game, JPP may well be back.

  14. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Also…just like the Bucs turned thing around in one game, so too can those teams…like the Rams.

    Anything is possible though.

    Remember how everyone mocked me for saying we might reach the NFC Championship game? Not looking so impossible, is it?

  15. SenileSenior Says:

    One game a season does not make. Two games does not equal a season either.

    “Buc fans have learned the hard way not to get too far ahead of themselves.”

    A winning season is the the turnaround I want. We are a long way from being a Super Bowl contender at this point.

    Play one game at a time please.
    Go Bucs!!! Roll the Giants!

  16. Swampbuc Says:

    Let’s also state what was clear on Sunday night — Matt Ryan is throwing interceptions. If Winston threw those, the torch and pitchfork mobs would be congregating around One Buc Place. But no one says a peep about Matty Lice’s carelessness with the football.

  17. BucDan Says:

    I have a feeling this game will be all about stopping Saquon (DUH!) and a young QB’s favorite outlet: the Tight End. Evan Engram, while athletic, is no Greg Olsen (whom Whitehead covered very well in man coverage on Thursday night).

    Daniel Jones has more mobility than stone-footed Eli Manning, however we will see how he fairs with a collapsing pocket from Vita, Barrett and Nassib, with Suh around for extra punishment.

    Bucs defense also showed much improvement against the run from Week One, where they were consistently beaten to the edge and allowed plenty of power runs and tosses to either side. It was nice to see an improved lateral movement to the ball in Week Two, with Whitehead and LVD making constant splash plays on the edge (shout out to Nassib here as well) to completely shut down one of the NFL’s top players from scrimmage in Christian McCaffery.

    As a third year season ticket holder (and going on 10 yrs going to games if I include the five-game packages), I will be in attendance to cheer on the team and remind those Giants fans that come through about how the last game at RayJay ended for them! With a big ol’ L!

    I would also like to give a big shout out to Gholston and Nacho as maulers upfront on the DLine, playing well in rotation.

  18. Tony LA Says:

    I love ya, Ira,

    But articles like this are insane.

    Over the past 11 years, how many times have we seen an inferior team limp into town and make a QB change or be forced to start the backup and then watch as we LOSE.

    Just a few years ago we lost 3 games in a row where we played the supposed second-stringer or brand new starter. Remember the days when Panthers backup Derek Anderson would come in and beat us virtually every time?

    One game at a time. The Bucs have done nothing to deserve any talk beyond this weekend.

  19. Darin Says:

    Like u said its a week to week league. Anyone can win any week. Maybe not the Dolphins tho. The way to do it is to not look towards winning the division. One game at a time. The Giants will show up. Gota play smart and hard. Lets hope they stop the dumb penalties. Go Bucs

  20. #1bucsfan Says:

    hell yes GO BUCS #endthedrought

  21. mark2001 Says:

    Been down this road before…but this time we have a real D coordinator. And hopefully Jameis plays within the system. And we make our FG’s and Extra points. We do those things, and I think it will be different this time.

  22. orlbucfan Says:

    TampaTown Says:
    September 17th, 2019 at 11:20 am
    Please let’s beat the Giants FIRST. Let’s not get away with ourselves
    Real Bucs fans know that; it’s called The First Commandment.